Tag Archives: children’s homes

If it’s good enough for Mo Farah!

Guest Blogger Cedi Frederick, former social care Chief Executive and now Managing Director of Article Consulting Ltd challenges the sector to invest in coaching for Registered Managers 

      Cedi (Cedric) Frederick                                                                       
It’s generally accepted that the job of the Registered Manager is the toughest in social care bar none! No other job comes with the relentless pressure, the ever increasing expectations and in real terms the ever decreasing resources; be that people or money!  At its best it’s hugely rewarding, but at its worst it can break even the most resilient of individuals.  In 2013 in a response to the growing number of Registered Manager vacancies, the CQC imposed tough penalties on organisations who failed to fill the 2,439 Registered Manager vacancies that existed and miraculously between November 2013 and April 2014, 1395 manager vacancies were filled, with 470 registration applications lodged with the CQC.  I wondered then, as I wonder now how many of those appointments were really up to the toughest job in social care and how many of those managers appointed then are still Registered Managers today?

I have led many management and leadership workshops and training sessions for Registered Managers and there’s a slide I always use to illustrate the expectations placed on them.  It shows the faces of Oprah Winfrey, Mahatma Ghandi, Margaret Thatcher, Anita Roddick, Winston Churchill, Richard Branson, Albert Einstein and……Paul Daniels! So, the ideal Registered Manager needs to have Oprah’s empathy, Ghandi’s wisdom, Thatcher’s toughness, Roddick’s entrepreneurial spirit, Churchill’s leadership, Branson’s business savvy, Einstein’s brains and like Paul Daniels, a Manager needs to be able to pull rabbits out of hats!  A lot to expect of one person?  Yes, it is, but we’ve seen how a great Registered Manager can turn a failing care home around, but we’ve seen how a home that was previously well run and delivering great outcomes can slowly fail following the appointment of a Manager who is not up to the job!

Skills for Careand the National Care Forum are doing great work to support Registered Managers to improve their management and leadership skills and knowledge.  They are to be applauded for their efforts, as are the organisations that invest in their Managers training and support.  But it’s not enough.  Care providers need to invest as much, if not more in Managers’ emotional and psychological well-being as they do in their managerial competencies.  I believe that thousands of Managers are burnt out and struggling to get through each day in a job that has changed beyond all recognition.  Many are of an age where they’re just holding on, hoping to see out their careers without a major incident in their homes that would threaten their future employment at a time when they believe that changing career would be virtually impossible.
 If it\'s good enough for Mo!

So, how should organisations respond?  By providing every Registered Manager with a Personal Performance Coach.

It would be inconceivable that a top sportsman or woman could maximise their performance and achieve the highest success without a coach.  More and more executives including CEO’s are benefiting from coaching, so why aren’t organisations who are increasingly recognising that their success rests on the shoulders of their Registered Managers considering the benefits of coaching for this crucial group of staff.  The guaranteed return on that investment?  More resilient, more confident, less fearful and less stressed Managers, better able to handle the constant pressure they face, more likely to become better leaders, better able to manage change and deliver transformation.  Personal coaching, alongside more formal management and leadership training will improve a Manager’s performance which will lead to greater staff engagement, greater trust and confidence between a Manager and their staff which in turn leads to lower staff turnover and sickness and ultimately better service delivery.

Depending on the needs of the individual Manager, a coaching programme could take from a few weeks to a year or more.  These 1-1 sessions could be held face-to-face, over the phone or even online with Managers expected to undertake some personal work between sessions. A coach is a catalyst for change in an individual.  They don’t do the work, but they hold their client to account for doing the work themselves. 
Providing a Registered Manager with a coach may save an organisation thousands of pounds per home each year.  Why wouldn’t they do it?

A Major Oxymoron

Vic Citarella remembers the days before there was social care

Listening to former premier John Major sounding off about Europe on TV this week prompted a memory – one that could be completely incorrect, but nonetheless its mine. The recollection being that he was credited to be the first senior politician to publicly use the term ‘social care’ back in the 1980s. Anyway this was what was said back then amongst those promoting the standing of residential, day and domiciliary care workers. Those arguing for investment in status, training and recognition and the professionalisation of social care as distinct from social work. 

It is now 30 years since Major was Minister of State for Social Security – the most likely time when he would have made a speech about the care sector. In that time since 1986 the cause of professionalising social care has made little progress. It probably peaked with the creation of the General Social Care Council in England in 2001. The code of practice was about social care and the intent was to register domiciliary care workers straight after social workers. By the time the GSCC was closed in 2012 the idea of registering any social care workers was long buried under burgeoning bureaucracy and costs. It remains alive and flourishing in the rest of the UK.

Why is social care in retreat in England? Why did the former Social Care Association struggle with membership? Why do the one and a half million people who work in what we call social care still have low skill, low pay and low esteem standing? Listening to Major again something about his stance on Europe and the NHS made me consider the possible oxymoronic juxtaposition of the words social and care. Like, as in, was he a ‘caring Conservative’?

Consider how far social care is a truth particularly in our times of personalisation and individual care planning. Most people want their care to be private rather than social I suspect. Consider the contradictions in the need for companionship and activity alongside the need to go to the toilet, go to bed, get up, wash, dress and be fed. The one involves groups of people and the other is – or should be – just you and the care worker. Consider many people’s preference to have support rather than care.

Perhaps, with hindsight, it was a mistake to coin the term ‘social care’. Residential, day and domiciliary care had the benefit of less ambiguity, more exactness.  It still does – people know what you mean if you say you work in a care home, a children’s home or if you are a Home Help or work in a day centre. Precision in terminology can put pressure on politicians, be understood by the public and attract investment.  With that comes professional respect and standing for the practitioner.  So out with the Major minor oxymoron of social care and let’s think about the major key alternatives.

Join our campaign to reinstate the NCERCC or a comparable body

Join our campaign to reinstate the regrettably closed quango, the NCERCC at epetitions.direct.gov.uk.

I am chair of The Institute of Childcare and Social Education (ICSE), the sector body behind this campaign, which has set up an e-petition to demonstrate to the Government the strength of feeling in the sector on this issue.

The government-funded National Centre for Excellence in Residential Child Care (NCERCC), based at the National Children’s Bureau from 2004, established itself as an invaluable resource for the residential sector, providing a focus for consultation, developing training and advice, running seminars and conferences, and producing publications and developing policy; but its funds were diverted by the last Government in 2009.

There is an enormous demand for another NCERCC or a like body to be set up – something we hear from residential care professionals, local authorities, schools, professional associations. Residential staff do a highly demanding job and they need support from people who really know about the work.

Setting up such a sector body need not require a huge budget and it could be partly self-funding. Despite the current austerity measures and curb on quangos, the support offered by such a body is a proven and cost-effective way of minimising the well-publicised scandals of the past arising from abuse in children\’s homes.

Bringing this kind of resource back is the best way to ensure the welfare of the children and young people, who require the most intensive care in our social services system, will always be of the highest quality.

Guest Blog from Peter Evans: Children’s Home Leaders… United We Stand

In a week where public sector job cuts, pay freezes and pension changes has reached the tipping point of proposed strike action, Michael Gove seemingly ramped up the pressure on the poorest achieving primary and secondary schools. Yet beyond the headline grabbing threats to turn such schools into Academy status was an altogether different speech on educational reform, from which I found immediate resonance to the Residential Child Care Sector. There were two main focal points to deliver better schools: recognising the role, qualities and vision of leadership within the school and how schools can work together to share and develop best practice.

As a registered manager of a children’s home it is hardly surprising that I stand firm behind the mantra ‘a home is only as good as its manager’. I believe that understanding such rhetoric is a vital to fulfil my position of responsibility, particularly with regard to the leadership elements of our role. We set the tone, underpin the culture, share the vision, and continually drive the standards and practice to do the best we can for the children in our care. We are a role model for staff and children alike. The qualities we strive for from our staff teams we need ourselves in abundance – relationship skills, presence, personal drive, positive outlook, stickability and transparency. Often these aspects of registered manager’s role are disregarded or lost in our managerialist culture of systems establishment, monitoring, controlling risk, directing staff and measuring outcomes. I’m sure the latter focus strongly in the majority of our job descriptions and certainly did in my professional training.

Thankfully, the tide may be turning. Ofsted’s recently released ‘Outstanding Children’s Homes’ publication echoes the view expressed by Michael Gove of the importance of leadership, recognising the majority of the characteristics and qualities of good leaders that I outlined above. More importantly, potentially, it shares Gove’s second point for sector development and places the role of the leader at the heart of this. Its first recommendation is to ‘consider systematic ways in which the experience and skills of leaders in consistently outstanding children’s homes could be used to improve standards across the residential care sector.’ On the back of this is a challenge to find new ways to share best practice across the sector. I see this as a call to arms for passionate leaders; to realise that our responsibilities are not exclusive to the homes we manager or the organisations we work for. In times of increasing financial pressure, insecurity and vulnerability we need to work together to show the true value of residential child care and elevate its status. Also we need to help other’s to do the same – managers and staff teams alike. Yet when Mr Gove spoke from his platform at the National College for School Leadership I couldn’t help but think where is our platform? It’s time we started building.

Peter Evans
Group Organiser of the North West Residential Child Care Forum on the Residential Child Care Network.

Outstanding Children’s Homes, Ofsted, 2011 available at www.ofsted.gov.uk/publications/100228

Help give (residential) child care a professional voice

The Institute of Childcare and Social Education (ICSE), of which I am Interim Chair, held a General Meeting on 14 March 2011. Discussion was lively, and the main thrust was to focus on the needs of registered managers of children’s homes, who hold the key to the quality of services provided, need first-rate support and training, and deserve professional recognition through registration.

It is a time of threats to services because of budget cuts and I believe it is time for the child care profession to get involved, and provide support and leadership to its own; monitoring the impact of government cuts, pointing to alternatives.

ICSE has now been relaunched as a body for concerned professionals to come together and make sure that both practitioners and managers have a voice. It is not only a matter of facing the government’s cuts squarely. There is also a lot positive going on such as the introduction of social pedagogy, educational therapeutics and restorative practice, the development of play and the continued impact of children’s centres.

Ways need to be found to ensure that the positive momentum of these developments is not lost, and that the services survive the cuts till the financial times become easier.

If these matters are of concern to you, join the ICSE and help to give your profession a voice, then please get in touch at info@icse.org.uk